The mood around Canada’s 150th anniversary is bittersweet. But that was predictable, surely, in our tense historical moment of roiling indigenous mourning-fuelled anger and self-abasing white-privilege guilt. The birthday is serving less as a unifying celebratory moment than as a reminder of who emerged as the winners and losers in Canada’s journey to nationhood.
I’m a winner. I’m the grandchild of immigrants to Canada who were escaping religion-based persecution, and whose issue made good here. But I am also a member of an indigenous people who achieved cultural strength despite a long history of serial dispossession, continual persecution and the worst genocide in recorded history. So while I feel sympathy for the plight of Canada’s indigenous people—storm-tossed by historical waves they were helpless to control—I don’t feel personal guilt over it. This is a reasonable position, or at least would be, if we lived in reasonable times. But we don’t. And I had a Twitter experience recently that seems to validate my claim.